Lost manners are the broken windows of civil society

Although this blog is about fashion for mature women, this week I felt compelled to address a different topic.

The ‘broken windows’ theory of criminology, first posited in a 1982 article by social broken windowscientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, describes how social disorder and vandalism are harbingers of more serious crimes to come. The theory says that if smaller crimes can be prevented or stopped, they will in turn stop more serious crimes.

From my view, broken manners are the broken windows of civil society.

We have seen the erosion of common courtesy and respect over the last 30 or so years. At first, a shrug-worthy incident: failing to open doors, say good morning or hold the elevator, for example, provides a minor annoyance. But what happens when it escalates? Enter colourful language and extensions of certain fingers. Enter road rage – at first horn honking, then yelling, and then violence. Enter someone shooting someone else.

But what if these scenarios played out differently? Instead, common courtesy would see one driver let another into a lane, or forgive a turn with miscalculated timing. Courtesy would understand that we all have places to go. Kindness would understand that we are just human beings who make mistakes.

I’m no social scientist, but I believe that basic respect and courtesy toward one another could go a long way to turning the tide on social disorder.

So the next time you have the choice to be rude or kind, pick the latter. We’ll all be better off as a result.


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